October 20, 2016 at 3:31 PM
Wearing a seatbelt is something most of us take for granted - and is also a legal necessity for both drivers and passengers. However, the simple act of strapping yourself in is a proven lifesaver.
Here we look at the science behind seatbelts, and how they keep us safe.
History of the seatbelt in the UK
The familiar three-point seatbelt was invented in Sweden in 1958. Its effectiveness in preventing serious injury or death in the event of an accident was quickly realised by both car manufacturers and the government.
Throughout the 1970s, laws were passed to ensure all new models of car were fitted with front seatbelts. Older cars were then next to be equipped. UK legislation has constantly been introduced and adapted, right up to the present day, to ensure that both drivers and passengers are travelling safely.
Wearing a seatbelt in both the front and the back of a car is a legal requirement. There are many more rules in place to protect children, who must use an appropriate and correctly fitted car seat, as standard seatbelts do not safeguard them sufficiently.
What makes the seatbelt so important?
The strength of the seatbelt in saving lives lies within basic physics. A three-point seatbelt, with one strap across the chest and another across the lap, restrains the parts of the body that have the most weight.
A correctly fitted seatbelt should have a small amount of give, but in the event of an accident, the seatbelt will "lock" - holding back the person from being thrown forward. It is in this instance where injuries or worse can occur.
A force for good
A motor vehicle works using the law of inertia. This means, in simple terms, it will continue to move unless it is stopped by another force. Inertia also applies to people travelling in the car too.
Unless a seatbelt is being worn, a person is quite separate from the vehicle in which they are travelling. When a belt is being worn in the event of a collision, the car, then the seatbelt, and the stronger parts of the human body absorb the force of the crash. Without a seatbelt, the individual will continue moving until an object stops them.
Depending on the circumstances of the crash, this object could be some part of the car's interior, somebody else travelling in the car or even the road itself.
In situations such as these, it is easy to see why wearing a seatbelt hugely reduces injury or death in car accidents, and making sure everybody is correctly secured in a vehicle is of absolute importance.